Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Is Chiptole Coming To Maple Lawn? Plus, New Mexican, New BGR, Closed Peruvian, Closed Thai

Anthony's New York Pizza & Pasta
The talk about Maple Lawn is that Chipotle is going into the new construction going in near the Harris Teeter.  It's been that way for months now.  People who know real estate explaining why the space and location look right.  Other folks saying that the new facade looks like a Chipotle.

I nod when they say that.

But I honestly don't know how to spot a Chipotle.  I can identify a classic Pizza Hut as I drive past, but I'm taking folks' optimism at the Chipotle and hope that we'll get an announcement soon.

I don't see anything official about the other Maple Lawn construction, but talk is about several other restaurants in the works.  Maybe a seafood place or a pub near Harris Teeter?  Maybe a new breakfast and lunch restaurant in the new office building that they're finishing up on the other side of the development?

Although we're a bit limited these days by toddler bedtimes, we're always looking for new places.  Lil' Chow and I hit up Anthony's New York Pizza & Pasta in Clarksville one night when Mrs. HowChow was out of town.  Unfortunately, this was before Lil' Chow announced "I don't like sauce."  So I ended up eating both our slices and feeding him garlic knots in desperation.

While we're at it, other local food news that built over my hiatus in the comments and emails:
  • Taqueria Los Primos has opened a "brick-and-mortar" store on U.S. 1 in Laurel, reports Steve on a comment.  This is one of the highlight taco trucks, so I'm eager to get over there.  And eager for Lil' Chow to come around to Mexican food more than tortillas.
  • That's an influx of new Mexican.  Cinco De Mayo is filling the space that Royal Taj vacated when it moved to expanded space in Columbia.  Junior Barnes sent me the website link that says Cinco De Mayo will open in "early 2016."
  • And BGR the Burger Joint may be come to Rte 108 next to the new Urban BBQ, says Kevlar51.    On the same comment threat, SHerrington asked if anyone knows what's going into the retail built at 10000 Old Columbia Road -- visible on the south side of Rte 32 but apparently empty as far as I've seen.  Does anyone know?
  • Bangkok Delight in Columbia appears to have closed while I was on hiatus.  Jim S. left a comment, and Nicole mentioned it on Facebook in November.  I'm nostalgic because it was one of the first places that Mrs. HowChow and I went out for dinner.  That was back when we lived off Rte 108.  I remember really enjoying Bangkok Delight, then feeling like the food changed.  Alicyn recommends Little Spice in Hanover as a Thai alternative.
  • Also, has one or more of the Bagel Bins closed?  Folks were talking in November.  Dzoey mentioned a Cafe Bagel on Rte 103.  That's new to me.  And what about Pisco?  That was the Peruvian restaurant near Perfect Pour in Elkridge.  Katie reported last week that it was closed.
  • 5485 Restaurant appears to have opened in Columbia.  This is in the Doubletree Hotel near Rte 29 and Rte 175.  The staff says they renovated and changed from Morgan's to 5485.   When I called, they said the menu isn't on-line yet.  Has anyone tried 5485 yet? 
  • Starting in January, you'll be able to visit the Manor Hill Brewery on Saturdays to buy cans and growlers of their beer, says MoCo Beer.
  • Black Flag Brewing in Columbia has launched a Facebook site so that you can follow the brewery that will open on Snowden River Parkway next year.  And you can watch for the web site that they're building now.
  • What is Mother's Howard County Grille planned for Elkridge?  After figuring out the calendar system to check on the liquor license applications at Wegmans, I'm having fun watching the liquor board web sit.
  • Dzoey hit up the new Pie Five on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  Several new chains are opening along Rte 40.  Pie Five is in new construction just west of Bean & Burgundy, which Dzoey says still has a good lunch buffet.  This is the report:
Pie Five does not take reservations and they do not deliver, but they have a special way of cooking the pizza so that it bakes in 2 minutes and it is ready for you 5 minutes after you order. You can specify your own pizza, choosing from five different crust types and four sauces and a variety of toppings, or you can use one of their pre-arranged combinations.

I tried three (pre-arranged) pizzas: the BBQ pizza, the Buffalo Chicken pizza, and a meat pizza (I forget the name) with one of their thin crusts and two of their thick crusts. I thought the thin crust was good, better than Domino's, not as good as Ledo's, and the thick crust was good as well, better than Pizza hut, not as good as what I've had in Chicago. The BBQ sauce was on the sweet side, with a hint of smoke and went well with the chicken. The meat pizza was good, with a good balance of salt and spice. The buffalo chicken wasn't what I expected, there was not much buffalo sauce, just some jalapeno peppers. It's a pretty crowded market so I wish them well. It's worth trying out.
  • And finally, you need to check out VCnearDC's long comment about the best cheesesteak in Howard County.  The family did a four-stop taste test.  They decided that Philly's Best in Columbia had the best meat and therefore the best sandwich.  Now that's on my list to try as well.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Uma Uma Soft Open Brings Ramen To Rte 40 -- And Maybe The Best Little Bite I've Eaten All Year

Tomato tonkatsu ramen
Uma Uma has brought the ramen shop to Ellicott City, and you should check out noodle soups and more at the friendly, casual restaurant.

Ramen -- like barbecue -- can lead to food blog warfare among experts about styles and execution.  So I'll leave that to other people and report just my observations.

First, the soup tastes delicious.  Lil' Chow and I lunched twice in four days.  We split three varieties because my toddler spilled much of a miso ramen until he realized that the stylish bowl tipped more-easily than the plastic ones at home.  Each variety was delicious.  All different.  My opening favorite is tonkatsu -- a pork broth served with the ramen, bok choy, slices of pork, and a just-boiled egg.

Uma Uma's pork bun
Second, the pork bun may be the best little bite that I've eaten all year.  It's one of Uma Uma's appetizers.  Steamed bun filled with a thick slice of tender, braised pork and house-pickled onion.  Rich and sharp, warm and chewy.  Each bun is a perfect two or three bites.  Get your own two-bun appetizer.  Don't share.  They're that good.

Uma Uma just soft opened on December 23.  They're getting organized, and they're starting at a run because the tables are already packed at the busy hours.  Yelp folks are already uncharitable about wait times and hiccups.  Don't be that way.  Go check out Uma Uma for something new and delicious that you can reach in 15 minutes.

For the uninitiated, ramen is noodle soup.  Again, the experts will crucify me for simplification.  Ramen lives in many, many forms.  Folks suggest ramen as a way to explore Tokyo.  They write about the best in the world.  But go check that last link.  The "best in the world" meant Japan, California and Manhattan.  On our local menus, ramen appears at places like Matcha Time and White Oak Tavern.  This is the first specialty shop, trying to make a go with ramen, grilled chicken, buns and a few other dishes.

Miso ramen
To me, ramen's real draw is slurping the broth.  Each spoonful -- and even the chopsticks bringing up dripping noodles -- offers the rich, cloudy broth.  The broths differ.  Miso, spicy miso, pork, etc.  But they're the backdrop for each bowl, and you can alternate mouthfuls of pork or vegetables.  I love bok choy.  A little crunch and mild peppery flavor paired beautifully with the almost-creamy tonkatsu stock.

Give Uma Uma a while to come into its own.  They've been open a week.  Chefs will adjust their recipes.  Waiters will pick up the ordering system and the kitchen flow.  I respect the comments on my White Oak Tavern post that suggest that the ramen there can differ day-to-day.  So go slurp up Uma Uma's good start and see how it goes from here.

Now, Uma Uma has some nice desserts.  The owner charmed Lil Chow with a green-tea mochi filled with ice cream.  But know that you can walk around the corner of Uma Uma's parking lot to a terrific bakery and coffee shop -- Tous Le Jours, a French bakery by way of Seoul with pastries, cakes, macarons, coffee and more.  It's a great place to hang out after dinner.  Please ignore the toddler who turns to a table of talkative young adults and shouts "Quiet! Be quiet!"  I have idea who that kid could be.

Use winter to explore an entire season of noodles and soups.  Like ramen, you can get them together in the hand-cut noodle soups at Hang Ari in Catonsville.  Or go noodles and fried chicken at Tian Chinese Cuisine in Ellicott City or Da Rae Won in Beltsville.   Or go exotic noodles with the fish noodle entree at Grace Garden in Odenton.  My one bummer is a vegetarian friend with Japanese wife.  There are no vegetarian ramen at Uma Uma.  What do people recommend as the best vegetarian soup around here?

Uma Uma
9380 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042

NEAR:  Uma Uma is on the north side of Rte 40 to the west of Rte 29.  It's between Boston Chicken and Lighthouse Tofu -- another great option for warm soup if you want soondooboo tofu stew.  There are a few parking spaces in front of Uma Uma, but your better bet is the lot along the side of the shopping center.  You turn off Rte 40 just before Boston Chicken, then park in the spaces in front of you or to your right.  It's good -- you're midway between dinner at Lighthouse or Uma Uma and dessert at Tous Le Jours.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Mai Dragon Brings A New Dim Sum Option Right Across The Line In Hanover

Dim sum at Mai Dragon in Hanover
New dim sum has come to the area and gotten a rave from friend of the blog Min.

Mai Dragon runs a pan-Asian menu in Hanover, and their website suggests that they do dim sum every day from lunchtime until 5 pm.  They roll trolleys through the restaurant on weekends and make it to-order during the week.

As far as I know, Asian Court in Ellicott City is the only dim sum option in Howard County.  We have often enjoyed it -- although leisurely brunches of exotic foods aren't exactly Lil' Chow's favorite activities.

So for now, I'll have to count on Min's review and try to plan a trip:
We caught up with the owners Meiling and her husband on Saturday and chatted for a while as I haven't seen them since she left Red Pearl. We also see some friendly faces in the waitstaff that we recognized from the original Asian Court.
Food is great! The aroma of dried shitake mushrooms in the siu-mais and shreds of dried scallops in the sticky rice chicken in lotus leaves (nuo-mi ji) are exciting indicators of decent dim sum. (Well, the surrounding Cantonese-speaking patrons is another.)  The multi-layered black sesame cake is a must-try. 
DH is very happy we finally have an establishment so good and so close to home that can be on par with the Philly dim sum scene.
Meiling said the dim sum chef studied under a very renowned chef in Hong Kong.  Also on chefs (Cantonese cousins) previously at other famous eateries in NoVA and Rockville. There will be a renovation coming  up soon. The restaurant will be able to host banquets up to about 26 tables afterwards.
Last but not least, just in case you're a fan of durian, the king of fruits, I asked for durian pastry (liu-lian su, melt-in-your-mouth durian wrapped in puff pastry sheets) and was told it'll be available next weekend.
Min wrote during my hiatus, so I assume the durian pastry is available now.  Mai Dragon is the name of the restaurant.  Some places on-line, it looks like there is a Mai Dim Sum with a different address.  It's all the same place -- just a dim sum menu on top of the regular Mai Dragon menu.

I am always open to Chinese recommendations in the area.  People like all different kinds of places.  We're partial to Grace Garden, which is even a little farther into Anne Arundel in Odenton.  A nondescript decor, but amazing food.  Does anyone have new finds -- restaurants or dishes -- to recommend around the area?

Mai Dragon
2649A Annapolis Road
Hanover, MD 21076
Phone: (410) 551-9498

NEAR:  This is on Rte 175 just east of the BW Parkway.  So it's just over the line in Anne Arundel County, but close enough for us to try to annex.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Surprise: I Went For Chicken Tenders And Went Back For Frisco Tap House's Ancho Glaze Wings

Ancho glaze wings at Frisco Tap House
Frisco Tap House has been many things in my decade in Howard County -- a Southwestern restaurant, a beer bar, a brewery.

Somehow, I was pleasantly surprised to discover my current favorite wings in Howard County when I stopped there for lunch.

Lil' Chow won't nap at home.  We've developed a pattern for weekends or other days without daycare.  We have morning fun, then eat lunch, then nap in the car.  For months, we looped and looped.  Now, I can stop driving once he falls asleep.

So I went to Frisco for the chicken and fries.  Lil' Chow requested a special treat, and I wanted somewhere new that would put a little extra effort into chicken tenders.  It was a complete bonus that my lunch had that extra effort as well.

This is part of a "Surprise" series that I'm writing as I try to start blogging again.  Come back for more in the next few days.

Lil' Chow's chicken and fries
Eight big meaty wings.  Or at least meaty half-wings.  Years ago, there were several local joints serving exceptional wings, but I'd given them up recently because they'd switched to tiny products that were mostly bone and skin.  Frisco sells wings as an appetizer, but they've been lunch twice for me.

Once, a Thai special.  Once, the regular ancho pepper glaze.  It's a real glaze, almost crunchy and nothing like the globs of barbecue sauce that I've seen over other plates.  The wings come slightly charred, crisp to the teeth and then moist inside.  I started to write myself a note that the wings were sweet, not spicy.  Then my lips started a warm tingle and I realized the ancho was doing its work.  There is skill in those wings, and they're one of those treats that I can't pull off in my own kitchen.

Frisco is a friendly place for lunch.  Half full on both of my recent visits.  Just enough conversation and noise to give the place some energy.  It's a nice escape from being trapped with a toddler, and even the young staff is personable.  One waiter played along when I deflected Lil's Chow's 10th question of "Where is our food now?"  The waiter explained the chicken and fries were cooking in the kitchen.  That finally satisfied the kid.  Well, that and the chicken tenders.

Where else do people recommend for wings these days?  Bon Chon Chicken in Ellicott City is my absolute favorite, but Korean fried chicken seems separate from the competition for wings.  The Town Grille in Lisbon guaranteed a Ravens Super Bowl with their special wings and a bunch of people commented on that 2013 post.  I've liked garam masala wings at Tandoor Grill on Johns Hopkins Road and the Old Bay Wings at Second Chance Saloon in Columbia.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

No Liquor At Wegmans? The Liquor License Request Seems To Have Been Withdrawn

No Wegmans liquor for now, but here comes barbecue
For now, there isn't an active plan to open a liquor store at the Wegmans in Columbia, according to a Baltimore Sun article that came out while I was on hiatus.

In August, I had flagged the liquor license application filed by The Loft Wine & Spirits.  In November, Amanda Yeager reported that the application was withdrawn because of a zoning issue.  Apparently, the county says a liquor store isn't appropriate there.

Reading between the lines, it looks like folks are tussling behind the scenes.  I'm sure Wegmans would like to rent that second-story space, and liquor store owners are pushing the liquor and zoning laws.  Does anyone know updates since mid-November?

But while I was nosing around the liquor board website, I came across some other tidbits about new restaurants, including the Urban Bar-B-Que that looks really close on Rte 108 near Snowden River Parkway and the Mission BBQ on Rte 40 that I'll blog about soon.  Here's fun stuff:
We had a few rare hours to ourselves for dinner, and I wanted Mexican. There's nothing good up our way, so we had planned on going to El Azteca in Clarksville.  Just out of curiosity, I fired up the Yelp app to see if there were any more options, and Los Compadres popped up with really good reviews.

Since it was so much closer, we decided to take a chance and I'm super glad that we did. Rommel, the owner, introduced himself and took us through the menu. It's mainly the standard fare, but they also had less common items like sopes and tortas.  My wife got three enchiladas with one each of pastor, carne asada and barbacoa.  I got chile rellenos.

I pretty much hold R&R as the gold standard.  If I graded R&R as a "10," I'd have to say that the food we had was a solid 8.5.  It was all very well seasoned and the flavor profiles were spot on.

The prices were very reasonable, with our bill coming in at $20.

I think the place is a real gem and deserves some good attention from the food press.
 Unfortunately, I think sometimes that the food press is evaporating around us.  I appreciate the Sun and WPost articles because they're becoming fewer and farther between.  I also welcome any reports on these new places in the comments below.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Surprise: My Favorite Ramen Slurps At A Farm-To-Table Restaurant (For Now)

Ramen at White Oak Tavern
I stumbled on my favorite local ramen at a "guys night out" at White Oak Tavern.

White Oak is a casual bar and grill trying to push seasonal dishes and farm-to-table ideas on Rte 40 in Ellicott City.  It's working a middle ground with aspirations for high-end meals, but a casual feel a little less expensive that a meal in DC or Baltimore.

Coming soon to Rte 40
It hit a home run with everything on my night out.  A brussels sprout appetizer that looks so good that we each ordered had one as an appetizer.  Then a main event of rich, dark broth cooked with chewy noodles, bok choy, and a just-cooked egg.

This is part of a "Surprise" series that I'm writing as I try to start blogging again.  Come back for more in the next few days.

A real restaurant reviewer would focus on the delicious broth.  A ramen expert could explain why that savory liquid paired so well with the tender noodles.  But I'm going to tell you about the pork belly.

It was the best pieces of pork belly that I've ever had in my life.

Slightly crisp,  Rich pork flavor.  No fattiness.  It was firm like a piece of meat, and it reminded me why pork belly has been a craze.  With a really good beer and the brussels sprout appetizer, it was as good a meal as I remember eating this year.  Now, it was a pricey bowl.  I don't remember exactly, but it was an out-to-eat dinner price like $15-25.  Absolutely worth the price, but entirely fair to compare it with the equally-fun ramen at Matcha Time in Ellicott City.

Ramen at Matcha Time
But it will be a blast to start comparing White Oak to Matcha Time to Uma Uma.  Uma Uma is the ramen and yakitori restaurant that has been planning and constructing since Spring 2014.  They're close now.  (Update:  I just heard that they plan to open on December 23, 2015!)  They had chairs there when Lil' Chow and I walked past 10 days ago.

Uma Uma sounds like a place that Lil' Chow will love -- soup, noodles, rice and chicken.  They're between Lighthouse Tofu and Boston Chicken on the north side of Rte 40.  When you check them out, walk around the corner for dessert at Tous Les Jours.  That French bakery by way of Seoul has great pastries, coffees, drinks and a great atmosphere to hang out.

But back to the White Oak dinner, my friend and I had a really good night.  It's a basic decor, more like Frisco Tap House than Aida Bistro.  But they're pushing for really interesting food, and the place impresses me.  I'd love to hear if other people can comment below with recommended dishes or reports about dinners at White Oak.

Folks have been emailing me about the Uma Uma sign.  I appreciate them all.  I'd love to hear from folks if they see it is open or (even better) if they get to try the food.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Where Can I Get Local Beer In Cans? (Asks The Guy Who Can't Peruse Liquor Stores Anymore)

Cheers with a toddler
I will admit that was my two-year-old calling out "I want to go to the liquor store" on Main Street at lunchtime last Sunday.

I had promised Lil' Chow pizza.  I said we needed to stop at the liquor store before we circled back to River House Pizza Company, so he kept shouting "I want to go to the liquor store" as we waited for the Wine Bin to open.

Unfortunately, the Wine Bin is too high end to sell single beers so I ate my pizza with water.

I can't nose around liquor stores like I did in the old days.  Lil' Chow was on my shoulders in the Wine Bin, but I still thought he was going to sweep glass bottles off shelves onto the floor.  I understand.  It's boring shopping for him.

So where can I find some of the Howard County beers in cans to stock at home?

Manor Hill Brewing has started to sell cans, I saw in a tweet from MoCoBeer.  I know that I've seen Jailbreak Brewery options in different places.

But I get at most a handful of chances a month to stop at a liquor store, usually when it just happens to be next to somewhere else that I need to stop.  I've been buying Mrs. HowChow her favorite Hite because it's stocked at the liquor store next to the new H Mart in Ellicott City.  So I'd love to know if I should check out any specific store for the local brewery options.

(Update:  Looks like Manor Hill actually debuted canned beer on Friday.  For now, Allview Liquors in Ellicott City is the only place where you can grab your own.)

Surprise: For The Best Ice Cream, Hit Up A Garden Center For A Scoop (And Paddle)

You can feast on Scoop & Paddle ice cream in Clarksville
If food blogs exist for anything, it is to bang hard on a very local drum.  So let me say again that the best ice cream in Howard County is served at garden center in Clarksville.

If that surprises you, then you should check out Scoop & Paddle, which has set up weekend hours inside the River Hill Garden Center on Rte 108.  This is the best ice cream in Howard County.  It's absolutely worth you driving today for a mix of regular and seasonal flavors.

I might have grabbed the last gingerbread Saturday.  We added a seasonal peppermint stick and a classic salted caramel.

This is part of a "Surprise" series that I'm writing as I try to start blogging again.  Come back for more in the next few days.

We've been eating that caramel since Scoop & Paddle debuted last summer.  Back then, they were parking their customized VW bus in River Hill's parking lot.  They're still doing some standards like espresso chip and mint chip chocolate, but the seasonal choices have shifted from summer fruits to winter flavors like eggnog and cinnamon.

The ice cream is superb.  Creamy and rich.  But Scoop & Paddle really stands out because the flavors come through.  The winter flavors push spices.  Deep flavor, but not overpowering.  The eggnog and the gingerbread taste like those things -- except in a cold, creamy dessert.  It's pricey at $10.50 a pint, but I promise that I haven't had ice cream this exceptional anywhere nearby.  It's Capogiro quality, which is HowChow's highest standard.

The Scoop & Paddle cart sits inside River Hill in sight of the registers.  Along with pints, you can buy ice cream sandwiches.  I have two in our freezer -- chocolate cookies and peppermint ice cream.  (Shhhhh.  Don't tell Mrs. HowChow.  They're a surprise.)

Seriously, I miss summer so much.  Go to Scoop & Paddle to recapture some summer fun or to spice up your winter table.  Either way, it's a local taste worth trying.

To check on Scoop and Paddle's hours, I suggest you check on their Facebook page.  They say 12-3 pm today.  One warning: The hours change.  Mrs. HowChow has planned several trips only to realize that Scoop and Paddle closed early or shifted their location.  Chill out.  It's a little business working with teenagers.  The ice cream is worth some flexibility.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Surprise: My Favorite Pizza May Be Outdoors, And It's Leaving This Weekend (Until Spring)

River House Pizza Company "namaste" toppings with a kid-friendly section
I'm trying to restart my blogging with a bunch of surprises that I've had while HowChow was quiet.

Like -- my favorite pizza may be served outside.

It's the River House Pizza Company that runs an mobile wood-fired oven off Main Street in Ellicott City.  This is part of the Tonge Row shops anchored by the Little French Market.  Lil' Chow and I split a pie last weekend, and I'm blogging this morning because this is the last weekend until spring for you to run over and enjoy a pizza yourself.

This is part of a "Surprise" series that I'm writing as I try to start blogging again.  Come back for more over the next few days.

River House sells crisp pizzas with a perfect char and a variety of high-end toppings.  You order at a window and then pick up the pizza from the chefs working under an awning next to the movile oven.  Last Sunday, Lil' Chow and I walked partway up the Trolley Trail towards the Breadery, then circled back to walk up Main Street.

Discovery #1:  Lil' Chow doesn't want to window shop.  He was polite.  But he was on my shoulders, and I'd hear a firm "No" whenever I paused to look in the window a store.

Discovery #2:  He likes pizza better without sauce.

Lil' Chow loves to cook pizza with me.  He has never eaten a huge amount, and I realized a few weeks ago that he preferred the crusts to the even the "plain" slice with sauce and cheese.  So, when we wandered to River House off the parking lot behind Tersiguel's, I asked to fill three-quarters of our pie with their "namaste" toppings and one-quarter with just cheese.

This is really exceptional.  It's better than the pizza that I make at home.  That wood oven chars the crust and browns the mozzarella.  They dot the surface with toppings -- dashes of chunky marinara sauce, onion, baby portabellos, and roasted red pepper.  We had the added pleasures of a warm December day and a toddler who ate with enthusiasm and good cheer.  But that pizza stands up on its own.

Unfortunately, they're closing up shop after this weekend for a cold-weather break.  Probably back in March.  Go for lunch now!

Now, I'm a sucker for the wood-fired ovens.  So my other top pizzas run from Facci on Johns Hopkins Road to the other mobile pizza oven at Brick'n Fire that often parks in Oella.   Lil's Chow and I also really enjoyed Bella Luna in Columbia.  With these ovens, pizzas differ.  It takes a skilled chef, and the pizzas at each place vary depending on who is running the oven.  Check out all my posts about pizza.

Anyone have other recommendations for pizza?  Anyone know the status of new restaurants on Main Street.  There had been talk about Joe's Squared coming to Ellicott City, but I guess that hasn't actually happened.

Sometimes, You Get Distracted, And You Need Tacos And Pizza And Ice Cream To Shake You Out

Sometimes, you get distracted, and you need tacos, pizza and ice cream shake you out of it.

It's been a nice fall, but life kept me away even from the fun stuff like HowChow.  It's like Lil' Chow ignoring the Bon Chon fried chicken because he was mesmerized by the television.  Football that he clearly can't understand.

But then people plied me with enough great food that I needed to come back.  Expect short posts.  I'm still working a hobby blog into the new reality.

First up -- R&R Taqueria is moving, expanding and then being replaced by a burger joint in the Shell station.  Junior Barnes left a comment with the announcement last week.  The new R&R will be next door to its current gas station location.  The R&R Taqueria Web site says the new location -- with 126 seats and a party room -- will open in late December or early January "where the Jessup Lhasa is."

I'm actually not 100% sure what that means.  The Shell station sits next to a strip shopping center.  Down the road is new construction, but I don't think it has commercial spots.

Can anyone describe where the new restaurant will go?

(Update:  Through the magic of tweets, Rodrigo told me that the new restaurant will replace the Jessup Deli.  That's a big space.  I'm psyched.)

I personally will be psyched.  I love the R&R food.  Touting the tacos highlighted by reader Alberto Flores has been one of my favorite parts of this blog.  But I ate those tacos sitting at one of the few stools or balancing a delicious tray in my car.  That's not an option when I'm looking for weekend lunch with Lil' Chow so I'll look forward to introducing him to more good stuff -- with a high chair and no televisions to distract him.

Thanks to everyone who has left comments or sent me emails.  I appreciate.  I love the blog.  I love that people enjoy it.  I have been spotting ideas all fall, just never could make the time to sit at the keyboard.  I'm just starting to work through the tips and emails, and I will reply.

Check out the R&R Taqueria Web site for the announcementChef Rodrigo Albarran-Torres says he'll turn the current taqueria into a new restaurant with burgers, wings, fries, milkshakes and other items.  He is also working on a cookbook!